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Want to spark innovation? Have a growth mindset.

Recent research has found that viewing interests as developable, not fixed, can help people make connections among diverse fields that others might miss, with implications for innovation.

Their research suggests that understanding this can benefit organisations in generating innovative solutions and ideas, job seekers taking on new or wide-ranging responsibilities, and can create a culture for interdisciplinary learning and problem-solving.

From climate change to the ongoing pandemic and beyond, the issues facing today's world are increasingly complex and dynamic.

Yet solving problems like these -- which interweave social, environmental, physical, and political factors -- requires new approaches that extend beyond traditional ways of thinking. It requires people to draw upon and integrate seemingly disparate areas of knowledge, such as the arts and the sciences. This kind of integrative thinking, or the ability to combine knowledge from diverse fields, is critical for generating effective, innovative solutions to tackle local and global problems.

The study found that a growth mindset of interest can increase people's tendency and ability to generate ideas that bridge their well-established area of interest (say, in the arts) with one outside of it (like the sciences). For example, in one task, research participants were instructed to create new college majors by combining two or more existing academic Arts or Science programmes at their university.

After coding and analysing the ideas they generated, the team found that people with growth, as compared to a fixed, mindset of interest were more likely to bridge programmes across the arts and sciences to create new majors like computational linguistics -- the use of computer modelling to understand natural language -- rather than creating majors that drew from only one of those areas, like computational chemistry -- the use of computer modelling to understand chemical processes. The analysis also revealed higher quality integrative ideas from individuals with a growth mindset.

The benefits of a growth mindset of interest may also extend to those seeking employment. This is a pressing issue because many people are becoming unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as developments in automation and artificial intelligence.

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